Philippines: Lessons learned in disaster preparedness

Philippines: Lessons learned in disaster preparedness

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Employees of ASKI take part in the DRRM training programme

12 January | 2017

To help its partners achieve greater resilience to deal with natural disasters, Oikocredit has been running a Disaster Risk Reduction & Management (DRRM) training programme for nearly three years. This week, Oikocredit investors are visiting partners in the Philippines that have put the DRRM training programme into practice.

The Disaster Risk Reduction & Management training programme was developed following the implementation of Oikocredit’s environmental policy. The environmental policy includes a principle on increasing the level of disaster preparedness of Oikocredit partners to meet recent and future challenges as a consequence of climate change.

Following the devastation brought about by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, Oikocredit selected the Philippines in early 2014 as a pilot area to launch its DRRM training programme. The Philippines is the fourth most disaster-prone country in the world, and according to the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, 130 million people in the Philippines were afflicted by natural disasters during the period 1995-20151.  These natural disasters include typhoons, floods, landslides, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis.

It is almost three years since the programme was first implemented in the Philippines, and Oikocredit has now extended the programme to Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia and will be rolling it out in Ecuador later this year.

Putting the training into use

As part of the DRRM pilot training programme, Oikocredit partners in the Philippines attended workshops to formulate strategies in line with their own specific needs and draw up contingency and business continuity plans involving local government agencies, schools, churches and emergency services. 

Alalay sa Kaunlaran Sa Gitnang Luzon Inc. (ASKI), one of the largest microfinance institutions in the Philippines, is an Oikocredit partner which has taken part in the DRRM training programme. Last October, ASKI was affected by typhoon Sarika and super typhoon Haima and the DRRM training programme helped ASKI to respond quickly to these typhoons.

“ASKI was able to disburse emergency loans to its clients very quickly because they had already provisioned for the loans as a result of the DRRM training,” says Marilou Juanito, Oikocredit’s capacity building and social performance coordinator for Southeast Asia. “They were able to respond fast because they had policies and guidelines in place and had established a disaster team in each branch.”

Further initiatives ASKI developed through the DRRM training programme included a ‘call tree’, which is a communication protocol for notifying specific individuals in case of a disaster alert. ASKI also gave disaster preparedness training to the communities they work with and distributed to its clients lists of contact details for the closest emergency services and evacuation sites. “Thanks to the DRRM programme, we have seen our microfinance partners going back to business within a day following a natural disaster,” adds Marilou. “Before, it usually took several weeks.”

Seeing the results first-hand

This week, Oikocredit investors, volunteers and staff members are visiting partners in the Philippines as part of the 2017 Study Tour. Disaster preparedness is one of the topics they will be learning more about on this tour and the group will report about their visits on our blog.

Read more on our blog

1 UNISDR 2015 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction 

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